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A brief history of the evolution of transportation over time

Since ancient times, in order to effectively move goods and people, first of all the vehicles and the
infrastructure, on which the means of transport could transit, had to be made available.
Hereafter a brief flashback of the way they these two variables did evolve over time.

Vehicles
The first means of transportation on land were certainly rudimentary slides, obtained from the trunks
of trees, to carry heavy loads.
But the most important invention in the history of road transport was the wheel.
The introduction of the wheel, to manufacture pottery
in about 3500 BC, through the work of the Sumerians,
led to the development of the wheel as a means of
transport. In the first carts wheels formed a single piece
with the axes, which were insured under the wagon
bodies by leather straps.
Votive cart on four solid wheels drawn by a
pair of cattle. Northern Syria, II mill. B.C. (Private collection Paris).

Only later the switch to the fixed axles on which the wheels rotated separately. Since 2000 BC became
commonly used, in the Middle East, a type of wheel with a hub for the axis and
an outer rim.
Spoke wheel dating back to 2000 BC exposed in the
National Museum of Iran, Teheran

For over 5000 years, then, the most efficient means of road transport, wagons and carriages, were
pulled by oxen or horses.
A first revolution in transport systems only came around 1780, when James Watt built the first steam
engines, that were later adopted also for the movement of vehicles, of which took advantage the first
railway, which used the rails to move vehicles, locomotive-hauled. The most famous locomotive was
that built in 1829 by George Stephenson.
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The first public railway was opened in England in 1825, the first Italian railway line was built in the
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, between Naples and Portici, linked with a length of 8 km.
Subsequently, and for almost two centuries, the railroad was the most important mode to ensure the
internal mobility of goods and people in the western world, ensuring the economic and social
development.
Only in the last forty years the mobility of goods by road has gradually taken over the rail, doubling its
share from 1970 to date (ITF data for the EU-26).
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Meanwhile, the transport volumes have more than


doubled (data ITF - billion ton / km).
3000
2500
2000
Rail

Road

Int. Nav

Pipeline

1970

46,4

36,2

10,1

7,3

2010

16,5

72,9

4,6

1500
1000
500
0

Rail

Road

Int Nav

Pipeline

Total

1970

507,6

396,2

111,1

80,3

1095,2

2010

395

1750

145

110

2400

The history of trucks, like that of cars, started in 1876 with the invention of the four-stroke internal
combustion
engine,
by
Nikolaus
August
Otto.
With Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and Rudolf Diesel we arrived, by
the turn of the century, to vehicles engines in the configurations
that even today, after more than a century, are still prevalent.
Alongside the first truck built by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in 1896

Since then, technology


has made great strides and modern trucks are equipped with
clean engines, and provide a great active and passive safety,
but remain driven by engines that use fuels derived from oil
refining, guilty of CO2 production as well as emissions of
harmful gases that pollute the environment and contribute
to
global

warming.
2

Especially in the last twenty years the automotive industry has made enormous progress in the
reduction of harmful gases, CO2 and enhance active and passive safety.

But the big push towards cleaner engines drives


today towards the production of electric motors,
hybrids or use of alternative fuels such as natural
gas,
biofuels
and
hydrogen.
.

Road infrastructures
The road infrastructure, intended for traffic of land vehicles, has its origin as
a result of the invention of the wheel. In fact, the Incas, who knew neither
the wheel nor the use of horses, even if they had, among many roads built
in the pre-Columbian South America, the best road system, the largest and
most advanced standards of the time (almost 40,000 km), roads were little
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more than a meter wide and only traveled on foot, sometimes accompanied by herds of animals,
usually
hamas.
The development of a road system, intended as transport infrastructure defined above, can be
attributed
to
the
Roman
civilization.

According to Strabone: "The Romans put great care into three things, above all, that the Greeks
neglected, i.e. opening roads, building aqueducts and disposition of
sewers
in
the
underground

The Romans, for military, political and commercial reasons , began


the construction of long straight
roads. The Roman roads were
primarily essential for the growth
of their empire, as they allowed
to move rapidly the army, but
their use was extended at the
same time to the movement of
people and goods.

According to Wikipedia "their creation was initially spontaneous, and usually took their name from
the city which they led to (i.e. via Ardeatina to Ardea), while others had the names of the functions
that were needed for (via Salaria) or populations reached a (via Latina). In the fourth century BC the
Romans started the construction of a new road system, bound for distant regions and whose duties
were primarily military, and to which was given the name of the magistrates who realized them,
mainly Censor and Console. A good example is the Via Appia, which began in 312 BC by Appius
Claudius Cieco to open the road to Magna Graecia in the context of the Samnite wars.
At the time of maximum expansion of the Roman Empire the road network measured more than
100,000 km, divided into 29 streets radiating from Rome to Italy, and all other parts of the Empire,
from Britain to Mesopotamia, from the Pillars' Hercules to the Caspian Sea. The streets were
equipped with milestones indicating the distance in miles
from miliario aureo placed in the Roman Forum.
Since then, and especially after the invention of the
railroad and later on of motorized road vehicles, road
infrastructures had again a great development, up to the
modern highways and high speed rail lines .

The real problem that affects transport nowadays


is the lack of investment in the development of an
adequate road network, in proportion to the
development of road traffic. The result is an
increasingly widespread congestion, which slows
down the speed of transport, decreases the safety
and
increases
pollution.
Although these problems seem legacy of the
modern era, in fact, already in ancient Rome there
were similar problems: crowding, noise, traffic, pollution from smoke, dust and waste, danger of
collapse and fires, which they tried to counter with ad hoc measures:

Driving restrictions.
In ancient Rome, which at the time of Augustus had a population of
about one million inhabitants, the use of horses and chariots was subject
to strict rules that prohibited the use in the city. Since 45 BC, Caesar had
enacted a law (Lex Iulia municipalis) that introduced in the city a ban on
private vehicles, except for wagons carrying materials for public housing,
for moving priests, for wagons for triumphal processions, for the circus
games and for the collection of waste and the tanks entered into the city
without
loads
during
the
night.
For all other wagons circulation was banned for about ten hours, from
morning to late afternoon.
In cities traffic safety was precarious, especially for pedestrians, often overwhelmed by the carts
proceeding at great speed, but also the clash among carts caused many victims.
The use of vehicles, especially during the night, of course, caused loud noise, the
strepitus rotarum that disturbed the sleep of many citizens.
First example of combined transport, people who arrived in Rome on horseback or in a
chariot, had to go step down at the gates of the city and walk or rent a special litter.
Finally, the excrement of animals used for transport, the decay of urban waste and fumes
produced by combustion for urban uses produced a large amount of CO2 and polluting
gases.
In other words: nothing new under the sun!
E. di Camillo, Centro Studi Subalpino march 2013